Incoming 9th-grader has scholarship offers

Stephen Zimmerman is a 14-year-old who stands 6-foot-10 and possesses basketball skills not usually exhibited by a child of his age. Before even having played in a single high school game, he already has been offered scholarships by two of the premier programs on the West Coast.

UCLA and UNLV have reportedly told the teenager they'd love to have him, and according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, he's drawing attention during this evaluation period from many other big-time schools.

Look no further than the University of Nevada, Las Vegas' Dave Rice, North Carolina's Roy Williams and Memphis' Josh Pastner sitting in the coaches stands at Centennial High School at 9:20 a.m. Friday to watch Zimmerman begin play in the adidas Super 64 tournament.

"It's very exciting. I'm honored to be noticed by these coaches and happy they're coming to my games," Zimmerman said. "I'm ready to try to take this tournament over."

Zimmerman already has received scholarship offers orally from UNLV and UCLA. He and his family also are in contact with Arizona, Duke, Indiana and Kansas.

The serious recruitment of a kid coming out of middle school is rare, but nothing new. UCLA coach Ben Howland in fact received a commitment from Taylor King in the summer of 2003 before he entered high school, with King eventually de-committing to attend Duke. Rice also should feel comfortable recruiting the young Zimmerman, who will be attending Bishop Gorman High where Rice's brother, Grant, is the head coach.

"I was really excited he offered me being an eighth-grader," Zimmerman told the Los Angeles Times, referring to Howland. "It was flattering."

According to what stepmother Lori Zimmerman told the Las Vegas Sun, the focus for the family is on keeping Stephen grounded as programs begin to grow confident he'll be quite the college player.

"They're so high on him at such a young age. It does (scare us some), because it's a lot of pressure to put on a kid, so I think that's why we try to insulate him from it," she said. "The first time he was ranked No. 1 out of a camp (at last year's adidas Junior Phenom event), we were like, 'Hey, you were ranked as the No. 1 center, now go do the dishes.'"